The Spiritual Warfare Battle Plan - Expect Attack

warriors of the cross

Spiritual warfare battle plan

Expect the Attack

I spent ten years in the infantry. I fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I’ve seen combat and the results of war. I know the lasting impact it has on everyone involved. The sleepless nights. The triggers. Memories that somehow seem more real than the tangible present. There is no glory in it, regardless of any book or movie dramatization. It is only destruction. It is death.

Spiritual warfare at work can often lead to the same devastation. And without a spiritual warfare battle plan, there will be excess casualties, and the residual impact could last for generations, just as physical warfare.

A Nation Caught off Guard

I still remember the twin towers falling on 9/11. I remember where I was, what I was doing, and how I reacted. I, along with the rest of the nation, was taken completely by surprise. We thought we were safe. The people working in the towers thought they were safe. The passengers aboard United Flight 93 thought they were safe.

How could we have been so off our guard? This is the same nation that lost thousands during the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941. I know, a lot of time had gone by. We’d defeated that enemy, become allies with Japan. Our national security had improved. No reason to feel unsafe. Right?

I guess the Word Trade Center bombing in 1993 didn’t happen? Don’t kid yourself. You lock your doors at night because you know there’s a possibility that someone could break in. Police don’t exist to create crime; they became necessary to protect people against crime. There’s no justifying the ignorant lull our nation had fallen into when those planes were hijacked. And there’s certainly no justifying the lull we’ve fallen into since then. Most people don’t even pay attention to the fact that our country has been at war for nearly two decades. Yep, soldiers are still being killed on foreign soil.

So how does this relate to spiritual warfare?

Because all combatants of war know that surprise and distraction are essential to gaining the advantage. I used to laugh during training operations. Every morning and every evening we prepared ourselves for possible attack. That’s not when the attacks happen, though, not even in training. They happen when no one is looking. They happen when everyone is happy and enjoying life, going about their business without a care in the world. That’s when the rockets and mortars land in the compound. That’s when the convoy gets hit with a roadside bomb, or a car bomb crashes through a gate. That’s when the sniper becomes the most deadly.

And that’s also when the devil strikes.

He showed up when Adam and Eve were alone in the garden. He showed up as soon as Christ was manifested at the Jordan River. He showed up when Job was prospering. The Bible is clear on this:

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“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:8.

A lion. As in a hunter. As in waiting for the right moment to pounce and devour. He’s subtle. He’s a liar. He uses tricks. He is not coming to your door with a pitchfork. You won’t recognize him. He will camouflage his efforts against you. You won’t know which direction he is coming from. He will distract you first, and then the assault will be sudden and devastating. Which is why the Bible tells us to walk circumspectly in Ephesians 5:15.

Learn more about Satan and his goals:

Satan’s Mighty Men

The Spiritual Warfare Battle Plan: The Wiles of the Devil

I wish I could wash these memories away, but some of the most painful things for me to think about are the faces of the men who froze when the enemy attacked. I do not judge them, whatsoever, and I would readily defend them against anyone who dared to speak against them. They were overwhelmed by an impossible situation. They did not want to succumb to their fear. They did not want to be paralyzed by the horrors they were facing. They were brave enough to be there. How many people can say that?

But they should have known it was coming.

The Deception

Too many times I listened to grown men bragging about how they were going to handle themselves in combat. I watched them strut in their pompous arrogance, declaring their masculinity loudly so that no one doubted it. They were experts in all things related to warfare. Except, they didn’t really believe the war would come to them. They were not prepared to manage their fear because they were not anticipating how bad it could get.

It may sound very cliche, but during training we said and heard the term, “train as you fight” a crazy number of times. You know why? It’s like muscle memory. If you do something often enough, your muscles will adapt to it and become accustomed. To this day, if I hold a rifle in my hands, I immediately go to a ready position without even thinking about it. My finger will be along the trigger well to prevent accidental discharge but close enough to fire in an instant. I don’t close my eyes when I hear a crash. I duck and turn toward the sound. I took my training seriously, and I played out scenario after scenario in my mind, allowing the reality of actual combat to terrify me. Some people just don’t take it seriously, and it overwhelms them in the moment.

The worst thing a person can do is imagine that the enemy is not really out there, hunting. If you convince yourself that you’re safe, you’re in grave danger. The Bible doesn’t say pray without ceasing for no reason, and Paul didn’t say to put on the whole armor of God for the sake of saying it. He said it so that we could stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). I told you that the devil is out there, roaming like a lion on the prowl. Most people know 1 Peter 5:8. You rarely hear people quote the next verse.

“Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:9).

Why would there be a warning to resist an enemy if the enemy isn’t really there? So many people fall pray to this. All of us do, really. But just like the enemies of the United States who have attacked this nation on our own soil, our spiritual enemy knows how to lie in wait, gathering information and plotting out the perfect time to strike. That’s actually a very basic strategy of warfare: Gather as much information about the enemy as possible, and plan your attack with precision, deliberate timing. Learn their habits. Study the way they react to things. Then start testing them. Terrorism 101: Create a disturbance, and see how the security forces respond. Do it again and see if they react the same way. Now wait. Let them think everything is back to normal and then strike in multiple directions.

The attack is coming, but it won’t come the way you expect it. You may already be under attack. You may be in his cross-hairs. You may already have been defeated. There are different forms of attack.

Those who have already been defeated

There are some people who don’t really register on the devil’s radar. They’re the people who don’t pay attention to spiritual matters. He doesn’t mind them attending church, as long as they don’t listen too closely to the sermons or Sunday school lessons. They can sing the songs, as long as they don’t get convicted over them. He’s fine with them reading the Bible, but not if they meditate on what they’ve read. Prayer is fine, as long as it’s not spiritual warfare prayer. As long as they’re not begging God to save the souls of men. As long as they’re not repenting over their sin and asking God to make them more like Him.

Someone reading this may be thinking, “That’s a good thing. Just live life the way I want, do the right thing, and I won’t have to worry.”

Sorry, no. Just because you’re not on the radar doesn’t mean you’re safe. Those people I just described are the ones living under the false notion that they’re removed from the war. Wrong. They’re the prisoners of war. Slaves to the enemy invaders. They do what they’re told, when they’re told. Don’t believe me? I think we too often forget that Satan is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He’s set this world on a course that is in opposition to God:

  1. Humanism, Gnosticism, Mysticism, and Holism reign.

  2. The Bible is viewed as a collection of outdated, hate-filled, man-made lies.

  3. Immoral stars of music, television, movies, and the internet sway our beliefs.

  4. Telling someone that Jesus died for their sins means they’re a sinner, so anyone saying that is hateful and couldn’t possibly know the real God of love.

People living that way, running that course and believing that host of lies, remind me of the people I saw living in landfills in Iraq. Their homes were made of trash. Their food was found in the trash, made on top of trash, and consumed by filthy hands. I didn’t look down my nose at those people. My heart broke for them. I pitied them. I wanted to pull them out of that place, but I was powerless to do so. They didn’t realize how bad their conditions were because it was all they had ever known. They thought it was normal.

And yet, even in the church, so many people watch trash, listen to trash, consume trash, and live in a landfill created by the devil. He is subtle, merciless.

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Being Prepared for Battle

Few people survive when they’re ambushed. The results of attacks on those caught off guard are usually tragic. In order to fight the enemy, you must be prepared for the enemy. In Iraq, we had barriers in place, and they were set far enough away to diminish damage by attacks at the gate. I wish that’s what we had done from the beginning, but we didn’t learn to do that until people fell victim to the attacks. We had guards, but not every guard can always be diligent enough. We patrolled, but we could not see everything, and we could not look inside every house or hear every conversation. We traveled with our guns mounted and aimed in such a way that we covered 360 degrees. It never stopped the snipers because they knew where to hide.

What I can say is that all of the precautions we did take reduced the amount of casualties. I just want to admonish you that God has given us the precautions we should take to prevent ourselves from becoming casualties. He has warned us to be careful what we put before our eyes. He has warned us to hide his word in our hearts. He has told us to think on holy and righteous things. He has told us to cast off the works of darkness, to put off the old man and put on the new. He has told us to sing spiritual songs to ourselves and meditate on God’s word day and night. He has given us a book detailing the history and tactics of the enemy. He has given us weapons to fight the enemy. We have the Sword of the Spirit and the Armour of God.

We do not have to be overtaken by the enemy. Nor do we have to live in a landfill to keep him from being bothered by us. As we used to say in training all the time:

“STAY ALERT, STAY ALIVE!”

May God bless you as you wage a good warfare. Remember, the weapons of our warfare are spiritual, not carnal.